Favorite Poems

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --

though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.

But you didn't stop
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,

determined to do the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Mary Oliver


From Letters to a Young Poet

Here, where an immense country lies about me,
over which the winds pass coming from the seas,
here I feel that no human being anywhere can answer for you those questions and feelings
 that deep within them have a life of their own;
for even the best err in words
when they are meant to mean most delicate and almost in- expressible things.

But I believe nevertheless that you will not have to remain without a solution
if you will hold to objects that are similar to those from which my eyes now draw refreshment.
If you will cling to Nature,
to the simple in Nature,
to the little things that hardly anyone sees,
and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring;

if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply,
as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor:
 then everything will become easier,
more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you,
not in your intellect, perhaps, which lags marveling behind,
but in your inmost consciousness, waking and cognizance.

You are so young,
so before all beginning,
and I want to beg you, as much as I can. dear sir,

to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and to try to love the questions themselves
like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.

 Do not now seek the answers,
which cannot be given you
 because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is,to live everything.
 Live the questions now.
Perhaps you win then gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answer.

Perhaps you do carry within yourself
 the possibility of shaping and forming
as a particularly happy and Pure way of living;

 train yourself to it--
but take whatever comes with great trust
and if only it comes out of your own will,
out of same need of your inmost being,
take it upon yourself
and hate nothing.

Ranier Maria Rilke

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